The Court mandated that all students who are planning on taking up their respective examinations, must be go through an RT-PCR test withing a period of 72 hours prior to the examination. A single-judge bench of Justice Avinash G Ghargote, while adjudicating the matter in HERD Foundation v. UOI; [PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION ST. NO.6466/2021]; dealt with the issue conducting offline examinations.
The petitioners submits that the ensuing examinations for the Under Graduate (UG) Courses i.e. I, II and III years and university UG/PG/Certificate Courses (Winter-2020 Medical Examination) to commence from 10/06/2021, conducted by the respondent no.4 – MUHS, offline, are required to be postponed till such period that each of the students entitled to hold the examination is fully vaccinated or in the alternative they be held online. They submit that the decision dated 19/05/2021, directing the examinations to be held offline i.e. by a physical mode, be quashed and set aside. They submit, that considering the present situation of the Covid-19 pandemic, any assembly of persons for the above said examinations would create a situation where there would be an explosion of the virus again and since the same can be avoided by postponing the examination, it ought to be done as it is the fundamental duty of the Union and the State to protect the life of each and every citizen.
The learned counsel for petitioner, submits that every life has an equal inherent value, which is recognized by Article 21 of the Constitution and the Court is duty bound to save that life. He submits that even the teachers and support staff who would be deployed for conducting the examination would be at risk. He submits that when earlier in 2020, the Post Graduate Examinations were conducted in the first phase, the aspirants were vaccinated, being frontline workers in the medical field and were therefore protected. The earlier examinations were conducted before the second wave of Covid-19 pandemic erupted. He submits that any congregation/assembly of a number of persons will aid in the hastening of the third wave. He submits that the petitioners are not frontline workers, and are therefore, incapable of being vaccinated as per the present policy of the Union of India and thus the examinations be postponed to a period after the petitioners get themselves vaccinated, whatsoever time it may take. He submits that neither the respondents, nor the Court can call upon the petitioner no.2 nor students similarly situated to him to put their life at stake merely for the sake of undertaking an examination, which can always be postponed and taken later on.
The Court upon considering the aforesaid facts stated that; “Learned Counsel for the petitioners, makes a request that at least conduct of an RT-PCR test by every student who undertakes the examination, should be made compulsory, and such student should have a report of the RT-PCR test conducted upon him, within a period of 72 hours and should produce the same for the verification of the authorities at the examination hall and in case any RT-PCR report is positive, the student should not be permitted to enter into the examination hall. He submits that this would be necessary, to prevent any spread of Covid-19 virus in case any examinee is found to be infected.”